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Visit Harrogate heralds Le Tour de France a success for Harrogate region

Visit Harrogate, which represents tourism businesses across the Harrogate District, has been inundated with positive feedback from its partners following the extraordinary weekend of 5 and 6 July which saw thousands of visitors descend on the spa town of Harrogate and its wider region.

Visit Harrogate, the destination management organisation, which is tasked with encouraging visitors to the town and its surrounding area, including Masham, Pateley Bridge, Boroughbridge, Ripon, Knaresborough as well as Harrogate, recently achieved a record 22,000 unique web visits a month to its website (its main hub of information for visitors and businesses). Today they are pleased to announce that 42,000 unique web visits to the Visit Harrogate website occurred in the month alone leading up to the Tour. The Harrogate Tourist Information Centre experienced a 350% rise in at-the-desk tourist enquiries over the weekend from people from all over the world looking to find out about what else they can enjoy in the area, with unanimously positive feedback on a great atmosphere and a trouble-free visit to the region. Visit Harrogate also distributed its 2014 Yorkshire Le Souvenir brochure to visitors to the area as a memento of the weekend and to inspire return trips.  

Visit Harrogate supported Le Tour's media centre at the HIC at the weekend. International journalists were delighted with the welcome that the people of Yorkshire had shown everyone involved in the world's biggest annual sporting event. One French journalist who had covered Le Tour for 15 years stated that the Yorkshire crowds had been the most enthusiastic and the largest he had ever seen, and he was overwhelmed by the response, adding ‘Vive La Yorkshire.' Michael Newby, Director of Visit Harrogate said:  

‘Le Grand Départ of the Tour de France has been fabulous for our region and we knew our partners would maximise the opportunity that this global phenomenon has given us. Key for us is that small, medium and larger leisure organisations benefit, not just over the weekend, but grasp the longer term opportunities that it provides and build on the momentum that we have experienced during our moment of visibility on a global stage. We will continue to work with all our tourism businesses to ensure that they benefit from the legacy of Le Tour and with news that a major new cycling festival may be coming to Yorkshire next year, we look forward promoting our region as an area with a wonderful welcome for visitors who love cycling.'  

Craig Nicholls who runs the King's Head in Masham is delighted: ‘We have been planning for Le Tour for a year and we were rewarded with a full hotel across the weekend. It has been a phenomenally successful period for us and we will continue to reap the benefits. Feedback from all our guests was that they loved the atmosphere and had a fabulous weekend in Yorkshire which looked its very best in the sunshine. We did Yorkshire proud here in Masham and we enjoyed every minute.'  

‘It was great to be part of Le Grand Départ and to help guests enjoy their wonderful Yorkshire sporting experience in our own small way,' says Jennifer Mackay, Franklin View B&B, Grove Road, Harrogate. ‘We had guests from as far afield as the USA and I am sure they will return to Harrogate.  Our guests really enjoyed Yorkshire and the exciting Tour de France and the warm friendly welcome from the Yorkshire folk. The fact we had it twice here in Harrogate was an added benefit.'  

Alison Hartwell, Managing Director of Harrogate Holidays Ltd said: ‘The growing trend for self-catering guests visiting Harrogate and the Yorkshire region is to take frequent shorter stays during the year, and this has been boosted tremendously with the publicity from the Tour de France. The whole community is behind the event making an atmosphere which is simply electric and one sure to rub off on the guests wanting future stays. We hope it will also attract more property owners to consider short term letting too. If the plans of ASO and Welcome to Yorkshire's to stage a 3 day event next year come to fruition, many of this year's visitors will return to our beautiful region, and hopefully more besides who have seen it on TV.'  

Visitors to the Harrogate District have also been keen to have their say. Wendy Chamier from Cobham, who travelled to Yorkshire specifically to enjoy the weekend said: ‘Having just come back from exploring the medieval towns of the South of France we were amazed to discover Knaresborough on our doorstep - as pretty as any of them.  We will definitely be back to have a proper holiday in the Harrogate area.'  

Graham Robins, a cycling enthusiast from Surrey, added: ‘I came to watch the Tour and do a bit of road cycling myself this weekend - I have been blown away.  After 3 years of cycling around the world, I found out today Yorkshire is as beautiful as anywhere I have been.'  

Visit Harrogate recently announced its work to raise the profile of the Harrogate District, and build awareness of its tourism opportunities regionally, nationally and internationally, including key projects ahead of visit of Le Tour: the launch of the Visit Harrogate photo wall in the Baggage Reclaim area at Leeds Bradford airport, 55,000 copies of the Visitor Guide distributed nationwide and the launch of the Conference Desk to manage event enquiries to maximise opportunities for business tourism in the area.

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